Launch Date December 4, 1958 | 18:18:44 UT
Launch Site Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Russia | Launch Complex 5 ​
Destination Earth's Moon
Type Impact
Status Unsuccessful
Nation Soviet Union
Alternate Names Unnamed Luna


Another Soviet attempt to crash a probe into the Moon - and study interplanetary space on the way.


None. A loss of thrust 245 seconds after launch led to a premature engine shutdown. The spacecraft did not have enough momentum to escape Earth's gravity.

In Depth

This mission was the third failure in a row in Soviet attempts to send a Ye-1 lunar impact probe to the Moon.

The thrust level of the core engine of the R-7 booster dropped abruptly at T+245 seconds, leading eventually to premature engine cutoff. The payload never reached escape velocity.

Later investigation showed that a pressurized seal cooling in the hydrogen peroxide pump of the main engine had lost integrity in vacuum conditions. The malfunction caused the main turbine to cease working and thus led to engine failure.


Launch Vehicle: 8K72 (no. B1-5)

Spacecraft Mass: About 794 pounds (360 kilograms) with upper stage

Spacecraft Instruments:

  1. three-component magnetometer
  2. two gas-discharge counters
  3. piezoelectric detector
  4. scintillation counter
  5. ion traps

Selected References

Siddiqi, Asif A. Deep Space Chronicle: A Chronology of Deep Space and Planetary Probes 1958-2000, NASA, 2002.

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